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The Prestige

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In what amounts to an imaginative, thrilling, and mildly creepy movie-length version of Spy vs. Spy, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play former magicians' apprentices in late 19th-century London who become bitter rivals after a disastrous botched trick. Co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins), a deft handling of actors and keen sense of pop imagery makes this film superior to the similarly themed The Illusionist in every category. Indeed, The Prestige has more bewildering narrative twists, more fascinating insider information about the magician's craft (which apparently involves countless cages of dead birds), more surprising double-crosses, more vivid supporting female roles, and more mischievous uses of facial hair than its artier, more ponderous predecessor. As Nikola Tesla, David Bowie cherishes his supporting role as the human MacGuffin around which the main characters orbit. But the show belongs largely to Bale, whose focused monomania causes actors sharing screen time with him to vanish into thin air.

Now playing, multiple locations.

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